The GAFAM War
For years, GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft) has been waging war with governments over tax evasion, antitrust rules, and their ever-expanding power over society. The Wall Street Journal reports that U.S. lawmakers in both parties may take action against Apple and its clout. The tech giant comes under pressure and may lose its grip on the profitable app store business. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 20-2 this month to advance legislation that could erode Apple’s fees on digital app revenues.
The vote came despite the political lobby work of Apple CEO Tim Cook, who warned that the bill would hurt user privacy and security. However, some Apple rivals, such as Epic Games and Microsoft, back the bill.
The Sideloading Bill
The bill targets app platforms and would allow developers to sidestep Apple by allowing “sideloading” of software onto iPhones outside of its App Store or to let apps use the store but skip Apple’s in-app payment system. The bill would also apply to Google Play. Apple has argued that sideloading would enable sidestepping safeguards to limit collecting user data.
According to Apple lobbyist Timothy Powderly, the company chose to prohibit sideloading and alternative app distribution because smartphones contain a person’s most sensitive data, and protecting that data would be imperative.
“For a long time, Apple floated above the fray in Washington,” said Paul Gallant, a policy analyst with Cowen & Co. Now, he said, the company has “been pulled down into the muck.“
Lobbying with limits
Apple‘s lobbying expenditure amounted to about $6.5 million last year, roughly a third that of Amazon or Meta. Tim Cook has long used his public persona to personally influence those in power and guide the company through political storms in Washington waters. This time, it seems, lobbying found its limits!